Attitude problems of 13 year olds.
I'm a mother of twin 13 year old girls. They're not bad girls, they get good grades and stay out of mischeif. However, they're attitude towards chores and they're back talking is driving me crazy. I can't seem to get them to do their chores completely, everything is done halfway.
Their smart mouth and the nasty tone they use. Everything I say something about it, they respond with "What?, I didn't say anything wrong."
I'll try to have a conversation with them and I get one word answers. I'll say, how was school? Reply: fine What did you do? Reply: nothing It's like pulling teeth. I don't know what to do. Do you have any suggestions?
I hate to tell you this, but overall it sounds like you're doing pretty well in the world of what can go wrong with 13-year-old girls. The first thing you might want to do is to read over some of the painful letters on this website. You might start to feel very lucky to only have "normal" chore and attitude issues.
What to do? First, be sure to praise them like crazy for doing well in school and being such great kids. Next consider negotiating an incentive with them for doing their chores fully. Paying kids for chores is a great way of putting the onus on them to do a better job. Tell them to view this as a part-time job, and that if they were working at Mickey-Dees they would not be paid for half finished work.
The respect issue is trickier. I would not go toe-to-toe on most back talk, but rather would say small "framing" statements such as, "Honey, no one is disrespecting you" or "It's OK to be angry with someone. It's not OK to disrespect someone" or "I worry that your attitude will cause you a lot of pain in your life." Then I'd walk away even as the talk continues. Punishing for small attitude displays just starts a game of chicken that can get way out of hand. Walking away in the face of provocation leaves your kid hearing her own nasty words, not yours. This is the best way to teach the issue of respect.
Finally, don't ever ask a kid how school was. They hate that. Plus, set your talking time for late at night, not after school. Some better conversation starters are, "What was the best thing that happened to you today? What was the worst thing?" Teens need specific questions to help them formulate their thoughts. Then once they get rolling, they can be hard to shut up. Learn the discipline of saying as little as possible so that they say the most. Ask short questions, and don't offer opinions or advice unless they ask. DO NOT LECTURE. Kids say that they hate talking to us parents because they usually end up getting some negative message (i.e. criticism) from us.
Let us know how you do.
Dr. Mike Bradley